Post-election storylines: Five religion angles as dust settles from Midterm voting

Good morning from blue America!

I mean, I guess Oklahoma — where I live — is still a red state. But my congressional district just flipped, electing a Democrat for the first time in 40 years in what The Oklahoman characterized as “a political upset for the history books” and FiveThirtyEight called “the biggest upset of the night” nationally.

(Neighboring Kansas turned a little blue, too, electing a Democratic governor.)

Religion angle? In advance of Tuesday’s midterms, we asked here at GetReligion if a post-Trump rise of the religious left was a real trend or wishful thinking.

Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District, which Democrat Kendra Horn won in a nail-biter, was one of the places where a group of progressive evangelicals called Vote Common Good brought its tour bus. The Oklahoman’s pre-election story noted:

If Horn, an Episcopalian and Democrat running for Congress, is to do what others claim cannot be done — namely, defeat Republican Rep. Steve Russell on Nov. 6 — she will need to make inroads with a voting bloc that has helped propel Russell's political career: evangelicals.

What role did religious voters played in Horn’s upset win in one of the reddest of the red states? I haven’t seen reporting on that angle yet. No doubt, changing demographics in the Oklahoma City area played a role, as did the rural-urban divide, but perhaps suburban evangelical women turned off by Trump did, too? Stay tuned.

As we begin to digest Tuesday’s outcomes across the U.S., here are a handful of religion angles making headlines or likely to do so:

1. White evangelicals push Ted Cruz over the top

The Republican senator from Texas — seemingly not anybody’s most popular human being — escaped a defeat at the hands of 2018’s Democratic rock star and media darling, Beto O’Rourke.

This stat stood out to me in a CBS News report:

White evangelicals favored Cruz with 83 percent of their votes, while those not in this group supported O'Rourke by a nearly 2-to-1 margin.

The big picture on how white evangelicals — the focus of so much discussion since President Donald Trump’s election two years ago — voted will emerge in the coming days.

Some early analysis via Twitter:

2. Kim Davis loses in Kentucky

As the Los Angeles Times notes, the clerk who went to jail in 2015 for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples was defeated by her Democratic opponent.

Meanwhile, Colorado elected Jared Polis as the first openly gay governor in America:

I’m not sure who Jack Phillips voted for, but based on what I understand about his beliefs, he could have cast a ballot for a gay governor — and still not believe in making a cake for a same-sex wedding.


3. Abortion opponents win big

That’s the takeaway from the New York Times:

Republicans gained some of their most important ground on Tuesday by electing several new senators who are opposed to abortion rights, a development that will help the party advance one of its bedrock issues.

By picking up Democratic-held Senate seats in Indiana, North Dakota and Missouri — and possibly elsewhere — the Republican majority will be decidedly further to the right on the issue. And no longer will the votes of two senators who support abortion rights — Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — be as pivotal when it comes to confirming judges and passing legislation.

The elections of Josh Hawley in Missouri, Mike Braun in Indiana and Kevin Cramer in North Dakota — all opponents of abortion — have emboldened anti-abortion activists and would appear to make it far easier for the Senate to confirm judges who are seen as likely to strike down legal protections contained in Roe v. Wade.


4. First two Muslim women elected to Congress

From the Los Angeles Times:

The first two Muslim women were elected to the U.S. House. 

Democratic Minnesota state legislator Ilhan Omar won her race in Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District and former Michigan state Rep. Rashida Tlaib won in Michigan’s 13th Congressional District.

Omar is also the first Somali elected to Congress. 

Tlaib won the Democratic nomination in the primary to fill the seat of former Rep. John Conyers Jr., who resigned amid sexual harassment allegations.

Simran Jeet Singh tweeted:

5. Hey, Mitt Romney just got elected to the U.S. Senate

No, the former Mormon presidential candidate’s Utah win was no surprise, but it’s worth noting:

Those are just a few of the religion angles that caught my attention. I know I missed a bunch — such as the closely watched races for governor and U.S. Senate in Tennessee — but look for much more commentary and analysis here at GR later today and throughout the week.

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